Norwood Park is one of the highest points in Lambeth and offers sweeping views over South London.
The new water play area is an extension to an existing equipment based playground located on the top of the hill.
Our clients’ brief was to create a natural play landscape offering water and sand play and specifically targeting children with special needs and their families/carers.
The design of two gently sloping mounds linked with a timber bridge exaggerates the existing hilltop topography. The mounds embrace a generous, partly sand-filled sculpted valley and shelter it from the prevailing winds. Purpose designed play structures, climbing features and sand and water play elements are embedded in this landscape to provide a multi level play offer with a higher degree of complexity. Water pumps at the top of the mounds allow children to create a flow of water and channel it down the boulder mound and a sloping, cascading structure made out of CNC-milled timber basins. Using sand cranes and an Archimedes screw children can then transport the water and sand back to the top. Excess water is collected in shallow channels running through the sand valley allowing splashing, bridge and dam building, and from there feeds into the planned wetlands at the foot of the hill.
The tallest structure and visual focal point of the play area is the play tower, which offers bird’s nest views from an outlook platform at high level. Water is contained in a water storage barrel near the top. The first level of the play structure is accessible from the mound and offers climbing, sliding and musical instruments as well as water play activities.
Playing with mud, transporting, shaping and building with sand and water are basic needs, which bring together all age groups, providing interest even for adults. The water and sand play offers children the opportunity to engage in ‘proper’ work and has some of the appeal of a real building site encouraging creative and co-operative play by enabling children to work together and engage in self-initiated ‘projects’ and games.